Opening Up

Looking forward, looking up.

The future is finally looking much brighter than my last post at the beginnng of the year – Trump has gone forever, the NHS have had the huge financial pat on the back that they deserve, and the UK Government continue to inspire confidence and trust. Hmmm.

I’ve been doing occasional socially-distanced shoots for quite a few months now and jobs are thankfully trickling in at a gradually more frequent rate. Sadly, a few of my previous regular clients are no longer operating and so I’m going to be giving my advertising/marketing a push over the coming weeks.

There are a few areas of photography that I’d like to be doing more of in the future and I’ll be posting more about these soon.

As always, I welcome all enquiries about corporate, portraiture, event, studio, editorial and social media marketing photography.

In the meantime, here are a few recent images…

2021: I’ve Been Expecting You

Well 2020 didn’t quite pan out as we’d expected, did it?

But not to worry, 2021 is here – kinda like 2020 but with a slab of medicinal hope, a smattering of eco-apocalypse, a soupcon less Brexit, and a sprinkling of Trumpageddon.

A fortnight into this new year and here in England we’re up to our chins in lockdown, which means photographers are again watching each other, thinking “if they’re opening their studio, I’m opening mine” but with no clear information or guidance from the government (again), I’m interpreting the rules according to “the spirit” of the “Stay Home, Save Lives” message and my studio is closed until further notice.

What this means to me as a business – a business that has “fallen through the cracks” as regards governmental financial support – is that once again, I can’t make my studio available to my little group of “residents” and can only accept jobs that involve shooting outside and at a distance. And this is why I, like so many other photographers, am decidedly “unbusy” at the moment, with a depressingly empty calendar ahead. So, money is going out, but very little coming in.

But… I believe the industry and the economy will “rise again” later this year, possibly with a renewed energy.

For reasons that, with hindsight, even I am struggling to understand, in the middle of the pandemic, with several hungry mouths to feed (mine, 2 felines and an occasional daughter), I decided to splash out on new camera kit. Insane. I haven’t even had the mojo to go out and take photos for fun with my new camera. But an update was long overdue and the shoots that I’ve done with it so far (stilted unfamiliarity aside) have produced beautiful results. I’ll tell you more about my reckless purchase sometime soon but for now, here’s a few images from (comparitively) recent commercial shoots…

Home Schooling

Since coronageddon kicked off, and my usual photography bookings became rarer than truths from a government adviser, I’ve been filling my time with lots of online tutorials, walks, trying new recipes, and roughly 40% of the time, looking after my 13 year-old daughter – which largely involves making sure she gets on with her allotted schoolwork and regularly shovelling food to within arm’s reach. In addition, it’s been nice (for us both) to introduce her to some new creative activities such as music recording, digital art and editing photographs using Lightroom.

I confess there may be a longer term dream that she’ll one day take over the editing side of my photography business (when she’s not at university or becoming a massive success in whatever “proper” career direction she chooses) while I do the bit I enjoy most – taking pictures. Editing, to me, is a means to an end. Unlike many other photographers, I really don’t enjoy the editing process. However, predictably, my daughter has taken to Lightroom like a duck to water and within an hour of my initial guidance, was using functions that I rarely if ever use myself.

And so here are a few of my photographs as edited on Lightroom by “my young apprentice”. She chose to work on these images from a “Urban Ballet” themed shoot at my Strangetown Studio featuring the wonderful Emilie Walt. Not necessarily how I’d have done them – but that’s the whole point. I’m rather chuffed with her results…

 

Extreme Harping

Early evening, December, and I’m on a Birmingham rooftop photographing mega-talented harpist/tutor/entrepreneur Fran Barsby (of PoppyHarp) for a CD with a working title of (I think) “At the edge”. There’s a cold breeze and occasional spots of wintry rain. And it’s freezing!!!! Myself and my glamorous assistant Alastair Barnsley are wrapped up in thick coats, scarves, and wherever possible, gloves. Fran, however, is wearing what you can see in these images apart from brief moments in a coat as we walk between locations. I’m shivering just typing this. So just to make Fran REALLY uncomfortable, I persuaded her to climb onto various barriers and fences with her harp and try to balance. Easypeasy.

 

A Tale Of Two Brothers: Part Two

If you read my previous post, you’ll have seen Dominic, the brother of this young man – Aaron. Aaron really only came along to support his (slightly more nervous) brother but proved to be extremely comfortable in front of the camera. All of these images were shot in my studio (Strangetown Studio) and in the rest of the Telsen building.

And finally, a shot of the two brothers together…

Alex: The First Shoot

One from the vaults now to celebrate the welcome return of one of my external hard drives from the data recovery people (don’t ask)…

Sometimes, the first shoot with a model is enough to make you fairly certain that you’ll be working with them again. In this case, the stunning Alex came in to my (Fotofilia) studio in October 2014 to model for a simple group “Studio Roam” shoot where the whole premises were up for grabs as potential locations. Since then I’ve worked with Alex many times, from location shoots on frozen city streets to fashion shoots for one of my designer clients and she is always a delight to work with. So here are a few shots from that very first shoot:

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Club Culture

January saw the final meeting of the FOTO-CLUB, previously known as THE CLUB, the little photography club I put together a decade or so ago.

The final meeting of FOTO-CLUB at the 1000 Trades bar in Birmingham Jewellery Quarter.

I’d been in a few “camera clubs” over the years and had promised myself that one day I’d start a club that was nothing like the club’s I’d previously been a member of.

I wanted to avoid dull “circuit” speakers, never-ending competitions, old-blokeyness, equipment snobbery, and narrow-minded rejection of anything vaguely associated with progress.

Yes, we had a few competitions and we had exhibitions – but not like ones I’d taken part in in other clubs. One competition that we ran a couple of times was the “Crap Camera Challenge”, where members were given a disposable 35mm film camera and a vague theme to shoot to – no “equipment snobbery” possible, just a level playing field and the photographer’s imagination.

Over the years, we’ve had LOTS of excellent guest speakers, covering most aspects of photography. Many, if not most, of these speakers had never spoken to an audience about their work before. Some took many months of hinting, cajoling and arm-twisting to persuade to appear but all added to our collective understanding of what this medium is all about.

My sincere thanks to all of the members of FOTO-CLUB, The Club, and F2, and obviously everyone who came along to talk to us (who have included photographers, film-makers, male and female models, software companies, artists and curators).

I’m especially proud that these were often people who would never have been asked to speak on the traditional club circuit.

Helen G in Strangetown

The shoots we’ve done so far at Strangetown Studio have proved what a versatile and inspiring space the studio (and the Telsen building as a whole) can be. On Wednesday 28th June, we’ll once again be putting it to the test when the gorgeous Helen Gibson is the model for our first female “studio evening”.

I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. Helen is one of those models that I’ve been dying to work with and this is a great excuse. There are still spaces if you’d like to join us…

Images below courtesy of Joby Rawlins (left), plus two other photographers (name not supplied by Helen). 

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Back Down To The River

For the past few years, once the worst of the frost has gone and our week of British summertime looked like it might be imminent, I’ve organised a “Nude In The Landscape” workshop at my friend’s beautiful riverside smallholding in rural Warwickshire. Even the rain hasn’t been able to spoil these lovely art nude photo-shoots.

And I’ve done it again. This year’s event takes place on Sunday 25th June starting at 10:30am and I’m delighted to announce that the model on this occasion will be the stunning Cally, a wonderful model who has previously featured in other location art nude events for me.

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Here are a couple of images from the last event featuring the superb Rosa Brighid to give you an idea of the setting…

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Joel Hicks: “Warrior” Shoot

We really don’t do enough themed shoots based around male models. But when we do, often our first port of call is the incredible Joel Hicks. Model, photographer, actor (I’m particularly a fan of the Haribo ads that he features in), charity fundraiser, and with a CV that makes the rest of us mortals feel like slovenly under-achievers.

Joel has played the male part in a couple of our successful “Film Noir” shoots, a “Downton” themed shoot, a casino shoot, fitness/boxing shoots, and numerous lighting demos and other workshops at the studio over the years. In his last visit, he brought along just a few of his many props including swords and armour and we had great fun capturing dramatic action shots using them.

Well, on that occasion we really didn’t have long to make the most of the photographic possibilities so I’ve arranged a return visit on Thursday 22nd June with a full two and a half hours to shoot in. There are still a couple of spaces. The venue is Strangetown Studio  in Aston, Birmingham and the high ceilings there will be a bit more suitable for swinging swords around.

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